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Stanford Researchers Study Trust in Autonomous Products

By Stanford News

December 9, 2020

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Stanford University engineers investigating how altering peoples' moods affect their trust in a smart speaker were surprised by their results.

Said Stanford’s Erin MacDonald, “We definitely thought that if people were sad, they would be more suspicious of the speaker and if people were happy, they would be more trusting. It wasn’t even close to that simple.”

Experiments confirmed that a user's opinion of how well technology performs is the key determinant of their trust in it, although this differed by age group, gender, and education level.

Curiously, subjects who said the smart speaker met their expectations trusted it more if the researchers attempted to put them in either a positive or a negative mood, while those in a neutral mood did not trust the device more.

Stanford’s Ting Liao said, "The ultimate goal is to see whether we can calibrate people's emotions through design so that, if a product isn't mature enough or if the environment is complicated, we can adjust their trust appropriately."

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